First Solar posts 89% boost in first-quarter net profit, announced new projects

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First Solar boasted a strong first quarter, with growing demand and robust bookings contributing to a 26% year-on-year increase in net sales to $950.16 million and an 89% boost in net profit to $112 million. Operating profit more than doubled to $139.27 million.

The company also increased its revenue by $182 million from the fourth quarter of 2013. It attributed the sequential increase in sales primarily to achieving revenue recognition of its Campo Verde project.

First Solar announced last year that it had sold the 139 MWac Campo Verde Solar Project, located in Imperial County, California, to Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy.

The company added that the increase in net income compared to the prior quarter was primarily due to higher net sales, project cost improvements and lower restructuring and asset impairment charges.

First Solar CEO Jim Hughes said the company had demonstrated significant progress towards achieving its financial and operational targets in the first quarter. "We delivered strong earnings in the first quarter and are increasing our financial guidance for the year based on these results. We have also made significant progress in new bookings and continue to execute on our technology roadmap."

Hughes added that the group had amassed 404 MW in new bookings in the quarter, including the 53 MWac Shams Ma’an project in Jordan, for which First Solar will provide EPC and operations and maintenance services.

The company also won a contract from EDF Renewable Energy for EPC services on two California projects with a combined 42.76 MW.

They include the 19.76 MWac CID Solar Project in Kings County and the 23 MWac Cottonwood Solar Project, which consists of two sites, one in Kings County and the other in Kern County. The CID Solar Project has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The Cottonwood project has a PPA with Marin Clean Energy.

Both CID Solar and Cottonwood projects will be built with First Solar’s Series 3 Black Plus PV thin-film solar modules, and will provide enhanced grid reliability and stability using the company’s advanced PV plant controls. Construction on the projects is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2014, with CID Solar anticipated completion in October 2014 and Cottonwood anticipated completion in the first quarter of 2015.